FAQ 4.36 How can I expand variables in text strings?

Discussion in 'Perl Misc' started by PerlFAQ Server, Feb 28, 2011.

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    comes with the standard Perl distribution. These postings aim to
    reduce the number of repeated questions as well as allow the community
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    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    4.36: How can I expand variables in text strings?

    (contributed by brian d foy)

    If you can avoid it, don't, or if you can use a templating system, such
    as "Text::Template" or "Template" Toolkit, do that instead. You might
    even be able to get the job done with "sprintf" or "printf":

    my $string = sprintf 'Say hello to %s and %s', $foo, $bar;

    However, for the one-off simple case where I don't want to pull out a
    full templating system, I'll use a string that has two Perl scalar
    variables in it. In this example, I want to expand $foo and $bar to
    their variable's values:

    my $foo = 'Fred';
    my $bar = 'Barney';
    $string = 'Say hello to $foo and $bar';

    One way I can do this involves the substitution operator and a double
    "/e" flag. The first "/e" evaluates $1 on the replacement side and turns
    it into $foo. The second /e starts with $foo and replaces it with its
    value. $foo, then, turns into 'Fred', and that's finally what's left in
    the string:

    $string =~ s/(\$\w+)/$1/eeg; # 'Say hello to Fred and Barney'

    The "/e" will also silently ignore violations of strict, replacing
    undefined variable names with the empty string. Since I'm using the "/e"
    flag (twice even!), I have all of the same security problems I have with
    "eval" in its string form. If there's something odd in $foo, perhaps
    something like "@{[ system "rm -rf /" ]}", then I could get myself in
    trouble.

    To get around the security problem, I could also pull the values from a
    hash instead of evaluating variable names. Using a single "/e", I can
    check the hash to ensure the value exists, and if it doesn't, I can
    replace the missing value with a marker, in this case "???" to signal
    that I missed something:

    my $string = 'This has $foo and $bar';

    my %Replacements = (
    foo => 'Fred',
    );

    # $string =~ s/\$(\w+)/$Replacements{$1}/g;
    $string =~ s/\$(\w+)/
    exists $Replacements{$1} ? $Replacements{$1} : '???'
    /eg;

    print $string;



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    PerlFAQ Server, Feb 28, 2011
    #1
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